Men’s lacrosse dismisses Wesleyan in overtime

Men’s lacrosse (6-5, 4-3 in the NESCAC) snapped its three-game losing streak in an overtime 5-4 victory over Wesleyan Saturday afternoon. The win comes after a heartbreaking 7-6 loss at Union on Wednesday night.

Saturday’s last-minute victory over Wesleyan was a triumphant moment for Williams, which had come within two goals of its opponents in each of their last three games. “[The win] was a product of our close losses,” co-captain Rich Reuter ’10 said. “As a team, we were sick of letting wins slip through our fingers.”

Michael Acierno ’12 put the men ahead early in the first period against the Cardinals, cutting through the Wesleyan defense to bury the ball in the upper right corner of the net just 4:08 into the game. A point-blank goal from Tim Goggins ’12 with 7:41 left in the period put the Ephs up 2-0: Goggins, positioned just atop the crease, collected a pass from Bryan Wrapp ’10 and found a way past the Wesleyan goalie for the score.

The Cardinals responded with a goal just 3:54 into the second period. Eph netminder Stephen Vrla ’10 made a fantastic kick save to stave off the Cardinal shot, but Wesleyan’s Conor Malangone found a way past the Eph on the rebound to bring the score to 2-1. The Ephs then responded, as Sam Hargrove ’12, who has been an unstoppable offensive force for the men these past two weeks, circled the crease before taking advantage of his opportunity and bringing the tally to 3-1 with 2:21 left in the half, bringing his season goal tally to 12.

Williams entered the second half with a bang: Corey Jacobs ’11 won the faceoff and took off downfield before firing on goal and finding the bottom left corner of the net just six seconds into the half. Jacobs’ goal widened the Ephs’ lead to 4-1. Two Cardinal goals in the third period – one with 10:18 to play, and one just before the quarter drew to a close – brought the score to a close 4-3 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals took control of the ball early in the final quarter, but Vrla repelled their shots until the Cardinals turned the ball over. Hargrove again wrapped around the crease for his 13th goal of the season just under three minutes into the period, cushioning the Ephs’ lead as the score rose to 5-3. However, Wesleyan answered Hargrove’s goal with one of its own with just 6:23 left on the clock and then tied the game 5-5 with just over two minutes to play, and the two teams soon headed into overtime.

A tense four minutes followed, as Wesleyan took three shots before Williams could get possession. Reuter controversially won the race with a Cardinal to the endline off a save from Vrla to win the groundball, and a quick series of passes as the clock ran down found Acierno open in front of the net. Acierno collected a pass from Hargrove, who had wrapped around the goal from the left of the net, before hammering a shot past Simmons to clinch the win for the Ephs.

Vrla, who was named NESCAC Men’s Lacrosse Player of the Week for his performance, anchored the Ephs on the game: The goaltender saved 19 of Wesleyan’s 24 shots on goal. Although the team was outshot by Wesleyan 46-29 and had a 54-48 ground ball pick-up ratio also in favor of the Cardinals, the men were still able to come out with the win, mainly due to Vrla’s consistency on the day.

“We have recently just stressed keeping the faith,” co-captain Andrew D’Ambrosio ’10 said. “Good teams find ways to win and, for us, that will probably be with our defense … No team can win without an excellent goalie, and we have that in Steve [Vrla].”

Saturday’s tight victory was the inverse of the team’s 7-6 loss at Union last Wednesday. Though the Dutchmen had pulled ahead 4-0 by the beginning of the second period, the Ephs came back strong with goals by Mike Ryan ’12, Goggins and Reuter to end the half down by just one at 4-3.

Heading out of the half, Adam Benjamin ’10 claimed his first goal of the season as he tied the game at 4-4. Union soon pulled ahead with another goal, but Ryan answered within a minute to tie the game 5-5. Wrapp gave the Ephs their first lead of the game at 6-5 heading into the fourth quarter. The men couldn’t sustain their lead, however, and two Dutchmen goals gave Union the 7-6 win.

The men played at Plattsburgh State last night, but results came in too late to report. Williams will travel to Bowdoin on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game.

“We should not be in the position we are in,” D’Ambrosio said as he looked ahead to this week’s games. “We should have won those other close games, but we didn’t, so now we’re scraping a bit. Bowdoin and Middlebury are perennial powers, and we need to clean up our play if we want to win.”

Head Coach George McCormack, on the other hand, was more optimistic: “There’s lots of parity [in the conference],” he said. “Whoever hits their stride has a great chance of winning the conference this year.”

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